Jesus, Celebrity Atheists, and Picking Your Battles

Picture by Joe (http://bit.ly/1vvQDWq)
Picture by Joe (http://bit.ly/1vvQDWq)

People around the world disbelieve in the divinity of Jesus.  But you are not responsible to engage every one of them with the news of the Gospel.  No, you are responsible to engage the ones near you.

Why did Jesus engage the blasphemous people in Matthew chapter 9?  Jesus engaged with those men, (1) because He was near them and (2) because they engaged Him first.

Jesus didn’t write letters to the editor about the blasphemous article last week.  He didn’t decry the latest PBS documentary with Facebook posts.  No, He dealt with the people nearby.
And even then, He didn’t go door-to-door looking for blasphemers under every rock.  He waited until they made themselves known and then He interacted with them.  Here’s my point:

People around the world disbelieve in the divinity of Jesus, but it’s not our job to go hunting them down or to go after the big targets.

  It’s very unlikely that God has called you to convert the heart of Stephen Hawking or Neil deGrasse Tyson or whoever the celebrity atheist is this week.  Jesus didn’t bother with those guys!  He engaged those near Him who engaged Him first.

So if you have people you love who disbelieve in Jesus, you’ll want to engage with them.  That actually makes sense.  You already care for their hearts—you care for their souls and their futures.  So it makes sense you’d engage them.  This means family members, coworkers, next-door neighbors, friends.

If those people don’t believe that Jesus is God—that He came to save the world—and that He proved it with His miraculous power—if those close to you don’t believe, then YES you do engage them!  Basically, we’re talking about those whom the Bible call your “neighbors.  They’re near you physically and/or relationally.

How have you found yourself caught in this cycle of wanting to respond to public unbelief?  How did it work out?  Sound off in the comments below!

This is an excerpt from last Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  For more, listen here or subscribe to our podcast here.

What Is Jesus’ Perspective On Your Suffering?

Used with permission from http://bit.ly/1zjlt9H
Used with permission from http://bit.ly/1zjlt9H

Jesus has an extraordinary perspective on suffering–even on our own very personal suffering.

Well, how could He know what I’m going through right now?  He knows, because He felt your pain on the cross.  On the cross, He took the burden of your sin.  He felt the weight of your heartbreak and your pain, physically, emotionally, relationally.  He endured it all on that dark day that we call Good Friday.  Jesus understands your suffering.

But not only that, He suffers with you.  He is no detached Lord who watches us from afar, thinking, “One day, they’ll understand.”  What happened when Lazarus died and his sisters wept?  Even though Jesus knew that Lazarus would soon be raised from the dead to the glory of God—even though He had that eternal perspective, what did Jesus do?  He wept with them.

When you weep, He weeps with you.  When you hurt, He hurts with you.  He does not abandon us in our suffering, but He walks the road of suffering with us.

So when you suffer, unburden yourself to Jesus.  He understands, He cares, and He hurts with you.

Yet the news of the Gospel urges us to take one more step forward to this part of His perspective: Jesus’ suffering guarantees that our suffering will eventually end.  By bearing the brunt of our sin and suffering, Jesus has undone the eternal grip of suffering on our bodies and our souls.  By dying and being raised from the dead, Jesus has broken the stronghold that suffering had on you.

Your suffering will not last, because Jesus has promised to make all things right through His suffering.  So just because He chooses to allow your suffering right now—it doesn’t mean that it will never end.

How does this thought strike you?  How have you come to terms with it?  Share your thoughts below.

This is an excerpt from last Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  For more, listen here or subscribe to our podcast here.

The Thing We Don’t Like About Jesus

The idea of Jesus being our Savior is a really easy pill to swallow.  People like the idea that Jesus came to forgive our sins.  We like the idea that Jesus is a loving man that wants to make all things right.

But the thing we don’t like about Jesus so much is this: that Jesus is GodAnd because He is God, His will is ultimate in our lives.  And more than that, He is our Lord, which means His desires should be put above our own.

Commentators W.D. Davies and Dale Allison Jr. put it this way:

…Jesus’ compassion is not sentimental.  The merciful servant issues excruciating orders.  The kindly saviour is the Lord who asks much.  Jesus freely dispenses grace, but he is not to be presumed upon.  Love gives and demands in equal measure.


If we are not submitting to Jesus in areas of our lives, it’s because we have forgotten this key reality: He’s not only our Savior, He is also God and Lord.  Submitting our lives to Jesus begins with a recognition of who He is.

Following Jesus is neither casual, nor partial—it’s a total life takeover.

This is an excerpt from last Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  For more, listen here or subscribe to our podcast here.

You Are Not Alone In Your Exclusion

On the cross, Jesus cried out a mystifying question: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

A question worth considering!  Why did God allow His only Son to die in disgrace?

The answer is this: God forsook Jesus for us.

The Father’s love for you was so great that He traded His only Son for you.

Jesus was excluded, so that you might be included.  Jesus was killed, that you might live.  Your sin was given to Jesus and everything that was His in His humanity became yours through faith: His righteousness, His place in His Father’s family, His glory.

You inherit all of this by believing that His death was sufficient for you.

Through His own exclusion, Jesus has accomplished your inclusion in God’s family.  You no longer have to fear God.  God is no longer far from you.  Your heavenly Father loves you.  And why?  Because of the work of Jesus alone.

This is an excerpt from last Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  For more, listen here or subscribe to our podcast here.

The Mournful Longing of Desire

It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark [of the covenant] remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after Yahweh. (1 Samuel 7:2)

Every person knows this mournful, longing desire.

Feeling like God is far, far away.

Looking up into the blackness of night and feeling nothing but the cold distance of an empty universe.

Longing, begging, and searching for peace.

Wanting to know that there’s a meaning and a purpose to all this.

Wanting some sense of connection with the divine and the eternal and the purposeful.

And as we mourn and long for something bigger—something better—something more satisfying—as we find ourselves in that place of need, God interrupts our longing with grace.

This is an excerpt from this Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  Please join us at 10:30am for worship!